July Newsletter | August 15 Open House, Finished Coffee Cart Project

Updated: Aug 7, 2019

We've got some exciting updates this month! We committed to a new sustainable construction project, camps & workshops, and formed neat partnerships.

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We were very busy this month and it shows in our blog posts!

We met with Mark Ouseley, a Queen's PhD student in the Department of Geography last month to film a short video interview about his research in biogas technologies. We also chatted about the future of the green construction industry and sustainable living!

Kingston has a rainy climate, averaging 960mm of rainfall per year. However, most of this water goes to waste, collecting and pouring into drains and sewers. At the QSEC, we collect rainwater for use in our household appliances, obtaining as much as 40000 litres in a season! In this post, we spoke about the water system we're using to turn rainwater into potable water at the QSEC.

We’ve done six workshops so far with our fantastic solar car kit donated to us by Sunwind Solar. We love them, and shared some of our favourite car designs from the young engineers we worked with this month!

We couldn’t be happier with what we’ve been able to do as a team this summer, and decided to sit down and film brief statements of our biggest takeaways. We’re grateful to our supervisor, Professor Harrison, and the Mechanical and Materials engineering department for supporting us along the way.

Are you an educator looking for a fun solar car activity for your campers or students? Well, you're in luck because this month we posted the full PDF of our Solar Car Races on a Budget workshop activity! Go check it out and see how we run our solar car camp events!

Wondering what exactly our coffee cart project is? In this post, we broke down the entire partnership, from start to near-finish. We also shared our entire design proposal, where we got our materials from, and why we took on the project! This is a super interesting read and we highly recommend it if you're interested in how all the components of the Solar Design Team come together!

The buildings we live and work in are an integral part of our existence, but did you know they are also responsible for a staggering 39% of global carbon emissions?

Fortunately, exciting advances in building technology like making concrete out of sequestered CO2, and building skyscrapers out of wood are creating a paradigm shift.


Join the Queen’s Solar Design Team and partners this August 15th from 4pm to 7pm for our first public open house of the year!

Stop by to learn, discuss and EXPERIENCE all the exciting science that goes into building and maintaining a fully autonomous house. Build your own solar car, see our rainwater filtration system, and learn about the future of the sustainable construction industry. With activities for ALL AGES, we’ve got something for everybody to try!


You can find our complete and regularly updated events calendar at our website.

This month, we're organizing the first OPEN HOUSE of the year, in addition to continuing with our weekly Science Quest workshops! We're so excited!


  • We started out the month by cleaning the Queen's Solar Education Center for all the workshops and events we have planned! It was hard work, but so worth the final product.

  • We received our fantastic solar car kit donated by Sunwind Solar. They've been so much fun in our workshops!

  • We're very excited to be attending the Green Building Festival in October, a trip generously donated to us by the Sustainable Buildings Canada!

  • This month, we organized at least one workshop each week, including solar car races with Science Quest and Elbow Lake Eco-Adventure camps. We also hosted Queen's Explore camps at our QSEC location for two fun energy exploration workshops!

  • The Queen's School of English visited the QSEC for a tour early in July. We got lots of interesting questions, and had a very fun and educational time showing them around the home!

  • We enjoyed switching up office locations this month, spending some time at our local coffee shops on days where we all had primarily research or computer work to do. It really helped with our productivity too!

  • One of our three giveaway winners collected her prize and posed for a fabulous picture! Can't wait to deliver the remaining two prizes this month.

Big Spoon Lil Spoon Mobile Coffee Cart: Nearly Finished! In partnership with Big Spoon Lil Spoon, we finished building a mobile coffee cart out of recycled or second hand materials, including wood from old shipping pallets, wheels from a lawn mower and metal parts from a barbeque. The project is nearly finished, with only a front-facing plaque as well as an educational poster left to install.

We're very thankful to Vericool for donating their Ohana Coolers for the project, made from a recycled post-consumer corrugated material that is much kinder to the planet than Styrofoam. You can expect to see Big Spoon Lil Spoon at our upcoming August 15 open house!

Partnerships We're very proud of our awesome partners. Visit our updated Partners Page to read about their impact and get a glimpse of our Partnership Prospectus Package! We're always open to new ideas for partnership opportunities.


Mechanical Systems

  • Technical research. At the moment, the focus is on investigating safe practices and regulation regarding the installation and use of a propane tank at the house.

  • Consultation with advisor. Met with our advisor for consultation on the designs created to-date, as well as project budgeting.

Civil Systems

  • QSEC Water delivery system.The water delivery system for our QSEC house project is now in its final stages of development. Construction drawings are being made to build a system integrating innovative approaches to domestic water supply, including a dual tank storage system.

  • Building research. Both for our QSEC project and exciting new ventures yet to be announced, research is underway into cutting-edge building science methods. Implementing new technologies to improve the air-tightness, insulation, and durability of the building envelopes in our projects will save time, money, and energy for all stakeholders.

Electrical Systems

  • Inverter installation. Consulted with our advisor about completing the installation of the inverter at the house. Lots of helpful advice determined some important considerations to research before moving on with our final step.

  • Solar car workshops. Developed the technical guidelines and models for our solar car workshops, which helped the campers get inspired about possible out-of-the-box designs they could get inspired by.

Business Operations

  • Event planning and meetings. The focus this month was on preparing the necessary documents and materials for all the workshops we hosted. Our August 15th event is also underway and we're excited to have you join us in our first open house of the year!

  • Partnerships. The Partners page was further redesigned this month. Our blog was also updated with some details about some of our partners and the fantastic resources they've provided us with.

  • Sustainability week planning. The team will be taking part in Sustainability Week from September 29 to October 3. We've been in several meetings and planning sessions to determine our role in the week!


The Queen's Solar Design Team hires a diverse team of students from all faculties to work on its projects during the school year. Stay tuned details about our application process going live at the start of September!

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